Photo by Marco López on Unsplash

Imagine that John, having agreed to pick up his friend from the airport, has failed to do so. When his friend confronts him, he makes it clear that his mother was suddenly sick in the hospital. As a result, the amount that John is considered morally responsible for breaking a promise to his friend to pick him up is diminished. But would that be the same if John had instead simply wanted to watch his favorite television program? In this case, John’s friend is likely to view him as more morally responsible for breaking a promise.

Reasons, therefore, diminish the…

Meeting between the Foreign Ministers of New Zealand and Japan in 2018 (MOFA: Image).

New Zealand’s relationship with Japan has included a strategic partnership for some time. Back in 2018, New Zealand’s Defence White Paper discussed the important link between New Zealand’s security interests in the South Pacific and New Zealand’s relationship with Japan. A diplomatic meeting between foreign ministers in late 2019 included talks of issues ranging from the South China Sea and North Korea through to maritime issues within the Indo-Pacific.

Since the onset of the pandemic, New Zealand’s exports to Japan have increased drastically as New Zealand made it through the year comparatively unscathed to other major food produce exporting nations

What do recently discovered stars orbiting close to the black hole at the core of our galaxy tell us about relativistic effects?

A depiction of stars orbiting around the black hole at the center of our galaxy. Credit: Nicholas Hunter (image).

In a recently published paper in The Astrophysical Journal, a team of European astrophysicists has published results of studying stars orbiting around the supermassive black hole at the center of our galaxy (Sgr A*). S4711, a cluster of stars determined to be closest in orbit around the black hole are “perfect candidates to observe gravitational effects” and the impact they have on a star as it orbits quickly around the supermassive black hole (Peißker et al., 2020). Scientists are interested in these stars to observe a few different phenomena. One of the phenomena that interest scientists are how the speed…

Do recent studies of interstellar comets give us clues as to whether a mission to Borisov or Oumuamua is feasible?

An unmanned craft passing by Jupiter on its way to an interstellar comet. Credit: Vadim Sadovski (image).

Towards the end of 2019, Borisov (C-2019 Q4) made its way through our solar system, crossing the ecliptic and approaching within 2 astronomical units of the sun. A recent study of the trajectory of the comet published in Nature Astronomy showed that “the body travels from a direction far from the ecliptic plane [and so] the only viable explanation is the arrival from outside the Solar System” (Guzik et al. 2019, p. 2). The comet is one of two recently discovered that did not originate from our solar system, the other being the asteroid Oumuamua discovered in 2017.

However, the…

What do recent studies of astronauts working alongside robots tell us about having robots assist on an interstellar journey?

A depiction of what a future robot that assists an astronaut might look like. Credit: Wei Weihua (Image)

Whether it be R2D2, H.A.L. or Data, the idea of having space travellers work alongside robots is not new. Examples from science fiction show robots may well play a number of roles to assist a future interstellar traveller. Robots have the potential to add convince to ship maintenance or assisting on space walks and complicated tasks. Sudden changes to the working environment would create a need to change the mission on the spot. How could an astronaut and a robot work together and change the mission at the last minute?

Daniel Leidner, a researcher at the German Aerospace Centre, along…

What do recent academic papers tell us about the possibility of traveling at the speed of light to a distant exoplanet?

A depiction of an Enterprise-class starship traveling at the speed of light. Credit: Andrew Gavrilov (Image)

Energy and Method of Light Speed Travel

Science fiction plays up the prospect of zipping around the galaxy and raises interesting questions about what a future where the speed of light travel exists would look like. Conventional rockets face a number of different challenges however, that may well still reflect on the prospect of the speed of light travel in the future. A method of travel close to the speed of light that involved the use of an antimatter fuel, for example, may pose problems that entail it cannot be easily applied for an interstellar journey.

Oleg G. Semyonov, in a recent article published in Act Astronautic

By Christopher Carroll

Think of two people. Person A buys a lottery ticket and by chance wins a hundred dollars in the lottery. Person B, however, spends the day hard at work making something in order to be paid a hundred dollars for it. Whilst they both have the same end product, Person A, being honest about how he got the money, would be hard-pressed to claim the hundred dollars as an achievement in the same way as Person B. Philosophers have two different explanations as to why Person A cannot call their win, purely by chance, an achievement like Person B.


Becoming bilingual was a twisted, unlikely and immersive journey that ended with me as a Mandarin dreamer.

Photo by Joel Naren on Unsplash

The year I finished university, is the year the financial crisis of 2008 was in full swing. Jobs were impossible to get for a young enthusiastic graduate with a liberal arts degree. If anyone knows that for certain, it is me. I applied for every job ‘under the sun’ to no avail.

I grew up in New Zealand, in a small town just out of the capital. I had never really been exposed to a second language. But when I left New Zealand, to teach in South Korea and then in China, all that changed. When I lived in Beijing…

Cartoon depiction of Kim Jong-un. Credit: Stephen Montoya (image)

Could the trade of a bomb for aid help restore faith in current negotiations between North Korea and the United States?

Nixon’s visit to the People’s Republic of China helped open up relations between the two nations. According to Stephen E. Ambrose and Douglas Brinkley, two prominent historians, “[i]n the face of great obstacles..the Nixon administration had some major foreign policy triumphs” (p. 269).

One of these was normalizing relations with China. When Trump negotiated denuclearization with North Korea, compassions between Trump and Nixon were discussed widely, including in The New York Times. Kissinger provided an immense amount of advice to Nixon about establishing relations with China. According to Richard McGregor in his recent book Asia’s Reckoning, Kissinger and Nixon aimed…

What do recent papers tell us about wormhole travel in the future and distinguishing a wormhole from a black hole?

A depiction of the view traveling through a wormhole. Credit: Adam Crowe (image).

Challenges for an Interstellar Wormhole

The immense distances involved in interstellar travel present a problem for future travels to interstellar planets and stars far from our own sun. One way of avoiding methods that might involve fuel (ion engine) and involve traveling at a fraction of the speed of light (solar sails) is by using a wormhole. But theoretical physicists are still not clear about how to go about making an interstellar wormhole. Pursing wormholes as a method of travel will present a number of challenges for future interstellar travelers.

One of the challenges with using a wormhole is the inclination it has to collapse…

Christopher Carroll

A thoughtful writer, and contributor to Medium.

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